Looking for the best things to do in Hebden Bridge? This guide has everything that you need to know.
Hebden Bridge is a former industrial town that has been transformed by creatives, artists, and alternative lifestyle practitioners in the last few decades. Today, it offers a lively independent dining and shopping scene, hiking trails, and a strong cultural offering.
This guide will cover activities and attractions including great walks, an iconic gig venue, a charming independent cinema, and canal adventures, from walks to cruises. It will also look at nearby attractions worth visiting, such as the village of Heptonstall and the National Trust’s Hardcastle Crags.
Living in Manchester, Hebden Bridge is just a 30-minute journey away from Manchester Victoria. I’ve experienced the town as a day trip destination, but there is enough to do there for longer stays as well.
Let’s now look at the best things to do in Hebden Bridge in more detail.
The 15 Best Things to Do in Hebden Bridge
Explore Independent Shops
The independent spirit of Hebden Bridge is evident in its fantastic selection of cool, independent shops. You can easily while away an afternoon exploring the unique products on offer.
From independent bookshops such as the Book Case and Crooked Books to homeware and gifts like those found at the Yorkshire Soap Company, there is something for everyone. Not to mention the many organic and wholefood stores offering high-quality produce.
Whether you’re seeking a unique gift or simply wish to support local producers, Hebden Bridge offers numerous excellent options.
Hit the Hiking Trails
Thanks to the stunning countryside that surrounds it, it’s no surprise that Hebden Bridge has become a haven for hikers. The area boasts dozens of scenic trails suitable for all fitness levels.
Explore picturesque valleys, woodlands, charming villages, and moors, all within easy access of the town. Along the way, you can enjoy spectacular views, cosy pubs, and traditional tea rooms.
Some of the most popular walking areas include the National Trust’s Hardcastle Crags, Stoodley Pike, and the area around the Heptonstall village.
Enjoy the Independent Café Scene
Alongside its independent shops, Hebden Bridge boasts a strong offering of independent cafes. Whether you’re in search of a strong coffee in the morning to kickstart your day or a cosy spot to unwind after a long walk, there’s a café to suit every taste.
Here are some excellent options for your next visit:
- The Excited Goat Coffee Lounge on Crown Street
- Coffee Cali on Bridge Gate
- Little H Cafe Bar at St George’s Square
- Mooch Cafe on Market Street
Have a Homemade Scone at Watergate Tea Rooms
Located on Bridge Gate, right in the heart of Hebden Bridge town centre, the Watergate Tea Rooms offer the quintessential traditional tearoom experience. The menu boasts a superb selection of loose-leaf teas, delicious sandwiches, and an assortment of Welsh Rarebits.
For those in search of a lighter option or a snack, I highly recommend their homemade scones. Generous, tasty, and perfectly fluffy, these scones are a must-try.
Whether you opt for the fruit scone with butter and strawberry jam or the savoury cheese scone, it’s the perfect treat for those long hiking days.
Go to Hebden Bridge Open Market
From Thursday to Sunday, 9 am to 4 pm, Old Lees Yard, just off St George’s Square, comes alive with a small but perfectly formed market. This market is the ideal spot to explore the offerings of local producers and artisans.
Each day is dedicated to different types of goods. Thursdays are reserved for fresh local produce from the region. Fridays cater to bargain hunters with a selection of second-hand goods.
During my visit on a Saturday, the market showcased arts and crafts products, including homeware, jewellery, and art. Sundays are a treat for foodies, offering an expanded selection of local produce and delicious treats.
Catch a Movie at Hebden Bridge Picture House
Another great activity in Hebden Bridge is an evening at the Hebden Bridge Picture House. As one of the last remaining council-owned cinemas in the country, the Picture House opened its doors in 1921.
Despite undergoing numerous upgrades over the years, this independent cinema has retained its original charm. Its programming offers a wide range of films, from Hollywood blockbusters and art-house movies to live events.
The cinema provides an experience no longer found in commercial multiplexes. For instance, patrons can still enjoy hot drinks in traditional china mugs and locally made artisan cakes.
If you’re keen to enjoy an old-school cinema night and support an independent business, make sure to add the Picture House to your list of things to do in Hebden Bridge.
Check out The Yorkshire Chocolate Company
If you’re keen to bring back a delectable edible souvenir from your trip to Hebden Bridge, make sure to visit the Yorkshire Chocolate Company store on Bridge Gate.
Crafted in Yorkshire, this company produces luxurious confections, ranging from chocolate bars and truffles to drinking chocolate and chocolate spreads, all made from ethically sourced ingredients.
We’ve tried various treats, including their cinnamon milk chocolate truffles, marzipan logs, and hot chocolate stirrers, and enjoyed them all. Additionally, you can treat yourself to a delicious hot chocolate prepared on-site.
Visit Hope Gallery
Those with an interest in the fine arts should add Hope Gallery to their list. This small, independent art gallery in the heart of Hebden Bridge showcases contemporary art from local, national, and international artists.
There, you will discover pieces in various mediums and styles, from figurative to abstract and everything in between. Alongside paintings, Hope Gallery also displays decorative arts pieces, such as ceramics.
The gallery operates on a commercial basis, so if you do fall in love with a piece, you can purchase it right away.
Go to a Gig at the Trades Club
The Trades Club is a cultural institution in Hebden Bridge. It is a small but mighty music venue and a vibrant community hub.
It was built in 1924 as a joint venture among several local trades unions. Although originally envisioned as a ballroom dancing venue, it has since hosted emerging and established artists of all styles from the UK and beyond.
However, it’s not all about live music. In the 1980s, the Club operated as a socialist members’ club and, more recently, was formally established as a members’ co-operative.
Alongside its live music programming, the Trades Club runs community events, classes, political gatherings, and fundraisers for various social causes.
If you would like to experience this iconic venue for yourself on your next trip, check out the Trades Club’s official website for what’s on.
Walk Along Rochdale Canal
If you’re in search of a relaxing stroll amidst scenic surroundings, be sure to take a walk along the Rochdale Canal. Stretching 33 miles (53 kilometres) between Manchester City Centre and Sowerby Bridge in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, the canal offers a tranquil escape.
Walking the entire length is considered a relatively easy hike, as the towpath is largely flat. Alternatively, you may opt to explore shorter sections of the canal.
The picturesque stretch between Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge is particularly popular. Spanning 5.5 miles (8.8 kilometres), it makes for an ideal day walk. En route, you’ll pass through other villages such as Mytholmroyd, where you can take a break.
Enjoy a Canal Cruise
If you prefer to enjoy the picturesque Rochdale Canal surroundings in an even more relaxed manner, consider joining a canal cruise. Hebden Bridge Cruises offers daily scenic cruises aboard a traditional narrowboat, Gracie.
The regular cruise lasts approximately 50 minutes and features commentary on the history of the area. For an enhanced experience, you might book a cream tea or an afternoon tea cruise, combining beautiful scenery with delicious treats.
Cruise prices begin at £15 per adult for a regular cruise. It is advisable to book your spot in advance via the Hebden Bridge Cruises website.
Visiting Heptonstall is one of my personal favourite things to do in Hebden Bridge. Perched on a hill just above the town, this ancient village boasts charming cobbled streets, traditional cottages, and historic churches.
Heptonstall is notable for its historic graveyard, where you will find two churches nearly side by side: the ruins of St Thomas à Becket Church and the 19th-century St Thomas the Apostle, which is still in use.
St Thomas à Becket, originally built in the 13th century, was severely damaged by a storm in 1847. Despite some repairs, the decision was made to construct a new church. Today, visitors can roam the old graveyard and explore both the ruined and the ‘new’ church.
In addition to this, the local museum in Heptonstall offers insights into the history of the local community. During my visit, there was an exhibition on the Cragg Vale Coiners, detailing the story of a notorious group of counterfeiters who once operated in the area.
If in need of a pitstop, Heptonstall features a few traditional pubs and the delightful Towngate Tearoom, catering to different tastes.
Heptonstall can be reached on foot from Hebden Bridge, with the path beginning directly in the town centre. Be aware that a section of the walk is quite steep and uneven due to the cobbles, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes.
Alternatively, the 596 local bus offers a route to Heptonstall. Timetable information is available on the West Yorkshire transport website.
See Sylvia Plath’s Grave
Another renowned site in Heptonstall is the final resting place of the iconic American poet and Pulitzer Prize winner, Sylvia Plath. Her grave is located in the newer section of the St Thomas’ graveyard extension.
Visitors from across the globe travel to pay their respects at her unassuming grave. Plath’s life ended tragically through suicide at the young age of 30, following a long battle with depression.
The graveyard lacks direct signage to her grave, yet it is relatively easy to find. Enter the graveyard extension via Back Lane, then proceed along the central pathway towards a square area populated with flat tombstones. This pathway divides the graveyard in half.
Look for a row on the left of the small square containing graves from the 1960s and walk down it until you encounter Plath’s grave. You can easily spot it by the flowers and pens left by visitors.
Explore Hardcastle Crags
A visit to Hardcastle Crags, a National Trust-owned wooded valley, is one of the most popular things to do in Hebden Bridge. The spot boasts 400 acres of beautiful woodland, complete with numerous walking trails to explore.
From leisurely strolls across flat landscapes to more strenuous hikes offering breathtaking views, Hardcastle Crags has something to suit every preference. En route, visitors can uncover hidden railway tracks, meander alongside picturesque streams, and spot local wildlife.
Hardcastle Crags is an easy 5-minute drive from Hebden Bridge, and there is car parks on site. However, you can also walk there from the town centre by following Midgehole Road. On foot the journey takes about 30 minutes one way.
Visit Gibson Mill
Located within Hardcastle Crags, on the shore of Hebden Water, Gibson Mill is a former cotton mill that stands as a reminder of the area’s industrial past. Built in the early 19th century, it was one of the first mills of its kind in the country.
Today, visitors to Gibson Mill can learn about the history of the local area as well as enjoy the ever-changing exhibitions. It is also home to the Weaving Shed Café, perfect for a pit stop, and a second-hand bookshop.
The main walking trails in Hardcastle Crags lead to the mill, so you won’t miss it.
When is the Best Time to Visit Hebden Bridge
If you would like to make the most of all the outdoor opportunities that Hebden Bridge offers, the best time to visit is between May and September. This is when the temperatures are higher, and the days are longer.
However, the summertime is also when everyone else will be heading to the area, so expect the town and popular walking tracks to get busy, especially on weekends.
Nevertheless, I visited in February and had a great time. The town still became quite busy with hikers and day-trippers as it was the weekend.
Ultimately, if you are wearing appropriate clothing and footwear, you can have a great day out or a weekend away in Hebden Bridge at pretty much any time of the year.
How to Get to Hebden Bridge
Hebden Bridge has a train station that connects it to other major cities in the area, such as Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and Blackpool. If you are travelling from further afield, you will most likely need to change trains in one of these places.
Alternatively, you can drive to Hebden Bridge. Keep in mind that free on-street parking is limited. Instead, you may park at the Station Road Car Park.
A day’s parking costs £6.00. The car park is conveniently located a couple of minutes away from the town centre.
How to Get Around Hebden Bridge
Hebden Bridge is small, so you can easily get around on foot. You can also walk to popular attractions mentioned in this article such as Heptonstall and Hardcastle Crags.
There are some local bus services that connect Hebden Bridge with the nearby villages. You can find out more about available routes on the local transport provider’s website.
Where to Stay in Hebden Bridge
Hebden Bridge is home to a range of charming B&Bs and holiday homes, making it easy to stay in the area for a few days. Here are a couple of options for you to consider.
Located right in the heart of the town centre, Hebden Townhouse offers a stylish stay with touches of traditional luxury. Some rooms are complete with gorgeous baths, perfect for relaxing after long hikes.
Another great option is the Hebble End View B&B, situated just off Market Street, where you will find many of the local independent shops and restaurants. The B&B oozes traditional charm and features two rooms that share a bathroom.
I hope this guide to the best things to do in Hebden Bridge helps you plan your own adventure there. It’s a great destination for a day trip or as a base for exploring the local countryside.
Looking for more travel inspiration in this part of the world? Other destinations that I highly recommend visiting in Yorkshire include the charming Harrogate spa town, the former industrial powerhouse that is Leeds, and the historic city of York.
Beyond Yorkshire, Manchester and Liverpool are great destinations to discover, both excellent cities for a weekend break. If you love history and beautiful architecture, be sure to add the city of Chester to your list.
FAQs: Things to Do in Hebden Bridge
Yes, Hebden Bridge is worth visiting, whether for a day trip from one of the nearby cities or for a weekend away. This small market town boasts a wealth of things to do, including numerous hiking trails, historic sites, and iconic cultural spots like the Trades Club. When not exploring, you can refuel at the many independent cafes and restaurants or browse through a selection of unique shops.
Hebden Bridge is renowned for its music scene, with the Trades Club being the town’s iconic live music venue. The town also boasts literary associations and is home to the final resting place of American poet Sylvia Plath. Last but not least, Hebden Bridge has a reputation for being a haven for hippies, New Age practitioners, and alternative lifestyles, which is still evident in its many shops and local businesses.
The natural beauty of Hebden Bridge has attracted numerous filmmakers. Among the most recent productions that took place in and around Hebden Bridge are the popular crime drama ‘Happy Valley’ and ‘The Gallows Pole’, based on the real-life story of the Cragg Vale Coiners.
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